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News Becomes Interactive: Turning Articles Into Open Discussions Online

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In an interactive form of news media never seen before, bloggers for The Huffington Post have begun inviting readers to openly discuss fresh, innovative ideas, join in impromptu support groups, or engage in healthy educated debate via the comments section of articles, on personal Facebook pages, or both.

Facilitated by readers comments and guided by the article's author, many of whom are experts in their fields, a new trend in communication is emerging that makes news interactive, allowing for information and ideas to be realized more quickly than ever before.

Using The Huffington Post's online format and social networking capabilities, the news can now be interactive allowing everybody involved to have their opinions heard and discussed quickly and easily. The environment at The Huffington Post has created the atmosphere necessary to facilitate this trend.

Writers are encouraged to move beyond researching and writing through suggesting interactive conversation and giving ideas regarding how to do so. In The Huffington Post's "backroom," writers are given the recommendation to "respond to comments" with the rationale, "Responding to comments on your own post helps the community grow around it."

Linda Keenan, author of Suburgatory, the title that inspired NBC's hit comedy, is one of the trail blazing writers welcoming readers to move beyond reading. Keenan stated,

I wrote a piece in the Boston Globe magazine called How My Blog Ate My Career in 2009. At the very last minute, in the bio blurb, I thought, I should invite readers to friend me on Facebook. I had at least 60 people friend me. Of these 60, I would say 4 of them have become friends in real life, and many more have become cherished Facebook friends. These total strangers, along with co-workers from jobs long past, and friends from all parts of my life have given me countless ideas..

Hopes that opening up will lead to further inspiration for writing is one reason writers are allowing readers into their everyday lives, but this friendship isn't a one way street, in return reader friends may become credited sources featured in writing. Keenan also stated:

They (Facebook friends) are constantly sharing the minutiae of their lives, and it often 'hits' and I have an idea for a satire story. . . . Sometimes, I include actual lines people have written.

Participating readers are also recognized for contributing their comments with badges attached to their profiles rewarding them based on the number of comments made.

My goals as a writer share these sentiments. I write not only to inform people of the truth, but also to create a reaction, hopefully one that will facilitate positive social change. By connecting with each other as peers, life is breathed into each article, birthing a conversation of thoughts, ideas and emotions that grows a life of its own.

Once the thoughts start flowing there is no telling where it may lead. Now, intelligent and inspired conversation is a virtual guarantee, but who knows where this trend, could go? If beginning the Second Feminist Movement can be attributed to the reaction to one inspired book (Betty Friedan, Who Ignited Cause in 'Feminine Mystique,' Dies at 85 - The New York Times, February 5, 2006.), bringing people together to discuss a topic more freely than ever before could turn into the millennial town hall meeting.

For today, the trend is interactive media never seen before expediting ideas. Maybe one day, even world leaders will be as relatively accessible as experts are making themselves with the goal of finding the best solutions to the world's problems. The only limitations appear to be our imaginations, and of course, if you forget to fan or friend me.